Browne, Robert, "the first seceder from the Church of England," and founder of the Brownists, was born about the middle of the sixteenth century at Tolethorpe, Rutlandshire. Graduating at Cambridge in 1572, he became a schoolmaster in London and used to preach on Sundays in the open air at Islington. After a further stay at Cambridge he was ordained, and thereafter proceeded openly to preach "against the calling and authorising of preachers by bishops." He established a body of worshippers on congregational lines at Norwich, and in 1581, having to seek refuge in Holland, he gathered some followers there. He subsequently returned to England, and becoming reconciled to the Established Church, was appointed rector of Achurch, Northamptonshire in 1591. Notwithstanding this, the Brownists themselves continued staunch, and in process of time became known as Congregationalists or Independents. Browne himself was imprisoned for assaulting a constable, and died in Northampton gaol about 1633.